“Maurice Lévy: The Napoleon of advertising”
In this article published in The Independent, Alex Benady interviews Maurice Lévy, the chief executive of Publicis, one of the biggest french advertising agencies. With four international advertising agency networks (Publicis, Leo Burnett, Fallon, and Saatchi & Saatchi) and media buying agencies Starcom and Zenith Optimedia, Lévy is considered to be one of the most powerful players in world advertising. Publicis has been growing and expanding its territory for many years, but Lévy claims that they are not trying to be the biggest, but “just the best.”
Lévy admits that it is hard for a french company to be successful in the world of business, as the image of french culture is not particularly positive in global business community. Lévy said that “it takes a lot of energy to convince Us and British corporations that a French agency can be creative and can service them in the market.”
Then he goes on to explain the differences in American, British, and French corporations and advertisements based on his experiences with each branch of his network. According to Lévy, British Ads are “dominated by sense of humor,” and demonstration of the product. Americans Ads are very realistic and “head on” with its “product benefit, and matter-of-fact rationalization. French Ads are more emotional than rational. Aesthetics is very important in French Ads; they have to be beautiful and sensual, and sometimes sexual. French Advertisement used to be obsessed with “porno chic” style ads, but it is a bit faded now.
Lévy talks about change in advertisement and change in the world. He argues that “we have to redefine our very notion of time,” saying that the rate of change has accelerated in past few years. Advertisement has to change according to the change of the world, but the change occurs more often these days. Lévy believes that this accelerating rate of change is true both for media and for consumer preferences. “since media are meant to represent the world, the representation of the world moves faster than the world itself. We no longer live in a time of mediation; we have entered an era of immediacy.”